A lot is being seen, said, written, telecasted and participated about Jan Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare and corruption. Today when I was at home watching TV, I was quite astonished to see the movement and sentiments that we are seeing in the mass across big and small cities of India. At home, I was asked a simple question… Can Anna succeed and how that helps us fight the corruption? And amazingly I did not have a straightforward answer.
A lot of us probably would have read and known about Anna Hazare and “Jan Lokpal Bill” in a great detail. To put in simple words it is called Jan Lokpal Bill, जन लोकपाल विधेयक in Hindi and also referred to as Citizens’ Ombudsman Bill started way back in 1968 when Lokpal Bill was first introduced by Shanti Bhushan and passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969. But it did not get through in the Rajya Sabha, which is the upper house of the Parliament of India. Subsequent versions were re-introduced in 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and in 2008 but none of them passed. Later anti-corruption social activists proposed some add-ons and prefixed ”जन” signifying that these improvements include input provided by “ordinary citizens”. The supporters of this bill say that existing laws are too weak, not capable and empowered to combat corruption. On the other hand, critics of the Jan Lokpal Bill argue that the bill attempts to supersede existing constitutional bodies with sweeping powers, which can be dangerous for the future of our democracy. Also the government does not want to include the lower beaurocracy under this bill but the fact is, it is the lower beaurocracy which affects the majority of the population.
Will Anna Hazare succeed…I think probably yes, well at least partially. Considering the general sentiments of the majority of “public” or aam aadmi as we call ourselves supporting this protest, I see the authorities in the center in a catch 22 situation. The government completely failed to anticipate the great support which Anna got. In fact, even Team Anna would not have anticipated such a huge support from public. By now top government officials probably would have realized that things do not simply fall in favor if they keep delaying and wait and wish for things to cool down. They definitely will have to find a solution to improve their deteriorating image.
Will corruption end…hmm well I say corruption starts from us. We have got so used to of finding an alternative “easy” way to get our work done that we fail to understand that it’s us who are the essential ingredient and acting as catalyst to the corruption. When our work is done by giving some “tip” out of the turn we happily do it. But when same “tip” is demanded from us then we crib about corruption. Well I believe it starts right from our birth. Parents happily paid to the doctors of the government hospital to ensure everything is well taken care of when we were born. How many of us or our kids have got admissions in good schools after paying amounts which is something a lot more than the “fees”. How many of us did pay that goddamn RTO clerk some extra bucks to make sure we get our Driving Licenses in time. How many of us have paid extra to tip the TTEs in trains to be able to get a reservation in a crunch time. How many of us have been caught violating road traffic laws and preferred to pay some small bribe to get rid of the hassles of paying the official fine/procedures. How many of us paid extra amount to these middlemen in the passport offices to get our work done quickly and pay some money to the verification guys to make sure everything goes well. It is us who do not choose to say no when we are being unduly favored. It has become a part of our social gene. It will be really hard to get rid of that and it will take a long time and some hard battles by each one of us if we really want to get the corruption out of our system or at the least minimize it. Having said that ofcource there are bigger fishes who do big business using corruption and there is definitely a much better system/law needed for that.
RTI (Right to Information) is an apt example. After RTI was introduced in 2005, it has slowly started making a difference over a period of time. However this path too has not been easy or peaceful so far. A lot of RTI activists have been attacked since 2005. In fact, 2010 alone saw as many as 28 major attacks including 10 murders of RTI activists. 2011 also saw several such attacks. Brutal murder of Shehla Masood is the most recent example.
So the Lokpal Bill (लोकपाल विधेयक) or Jan-Lokpal Bill (जन लोकपाल विधेयक) or a mix of both, whatever finally takes a final shape, things will not change overnight just by passing the bill. The bill is just a beginning. It will still take a lot more of struggle and effort by each one of us to minimize the corruption.